Extreme heat, wildfires wreaking havoc with the warmest months still ahead

Spring has just begun to transition into summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but some of the most obnoxious and dangerous extreme weather seasons are already running rampant.

Prolonged and punishing heatwaves in Asia have sent temperatures soaring to 100 degrees as far north as Siberia and above 110 degrees in Thailand and Vietnam, breaking records.

Fires are raging in Canada, which has never seen so much land burn so early in the year. They arrive after a record hot May.

The extreme conditions also extend to the southern hemisphere, where record the heat and historically low sea ice levels remain even as that part of the globe enters winter.

The extremes are all linked to ocean waters which have held record levels for months, driven by man-made climate change. The weather chaos could intensify in the coming months as summer temperatures peak and El Nio develops further raising air and water temperatures around the globe.

The extreme heat is spreading to places unusually up north.

Over the weekend, parts of Siberia climbed to highs near 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius), setting all-time records.

In Yalturovosk, the 100 degrees (37.9 degrees Celsius) recorded on June 3 was the highest ever observed there, second extreme weather historian Maximiliano Herrera. Alexandrovskoe and Laryak in Siberia also set all-time records on Sunday, with 97 degrees (36.1 degrees Celsius) and 95 degrees (34.9 degrees Celsius) respectively.

Many additional records some all time they were set on Monday.

Pulsating heat and drought conditions have been common in the region this year. An outbreak of wildfires several weeks ago killed more than 20 people in the Urals and Siberia.

Unusual warmth in high latitudes is a hallmark of climate change. On June 20, 2020, the temperature in the Siberian city of Verkhoyansk, which is located above the Arctic Circle, rose to 100.4 degrees. It was confirmed as the hottest temperature on record so far in the north.

Record heat in China and Southeast Asia

Parts of China and surrounding East Asian nations, including Thailand and Vietnam, are in the midst of a several-month-long heat wave that has broken more than a thousand daily, monthly and all-time records. The record heat comes on the heels of similar episodes in the summer of 2022.

Herrera tweeted that the heat wave in China was mind blowing and rewrote the history books of the time.

Just since the beginning of June, all-time highs have been achieved dozens of locations throughout southern China, with temperatures reaching at least 108 degrees (42.2 degrees Celsius), and also mountainous locations warmth to a level rarely seen.

The record highs for the month of June have been observed in Vietnam, where Muong La reached 111 degrees (43.8 degrees Celsius) and in Hong Kong where it reached 100 degrees (37.9 degrees Celsius). In late April and May, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos set all-time national records with temperatures exceeding 110 degrees (43.5 degrees Celsius).

The heat in Southeast Asia, into its 13th week, is the most brutal unending heatwave the world has ever seen. Herrera tweeted.

Japan just finished its warmest March to May period on record, second the Japan Meteorological Agency. The country and the surrounding area later faced a pulse of intense heat on the outskirts of Typhoon Mawar before the storm brought all-time record 24-hour rainfall to Japan’s Pacific coast. including 19.3 inches in Toba.

Record heat rounds also have occasionally spread westward towards the Middle East. A fresh surge in extreme temperatures is expected to envelop much of China for the next seven to 10 days.

Canadian wildfires raging amid record heat

At least 8 million acres (3.3 million hectares) have been burned across Canada, which has resisted its warmest May on record. More than 6 million acres (2.5 million hectares) went up in flames in May alone.

Persistent heat and drought are affecting areas from coast to coast, with the worst fires to date in parts of the Alberta and Saskatchewan prairies, as well as Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Maritimes and Quebec north of New England. Total burned area is currently about 1,200 percent normal for the year to date, with several provinces managing over 4,000 percent normal.

The average annual burnt area in Canada is 5.2 million acres (2.1 million hectares). However, 2023 has already surpassed what are typically full-year totals historically the vast majority of firefighting activity has yet to occur.

Fires burned homes and forests during the last days of May in Nova Scotia, Canada. (Video: John Farrell/The Washington Post)

Record low sea ice in Antarctica

Because portions of Antarctica warm five times faster than the global average, the area around Antarctica covered by sea ice is at an all-time low for this time of year at about 10 million square kilometers (3,861,000 miles), compared to a historical average of about 12 million square kilometers (4,633,000 miles).

For most of the year, sea ice extent was at or near record low coverage.

Antarctic sea ice reached its annual low for this year on Feb. 21. The 1.79 million square kilometers (691,000 sq mi) covered by sea ice was the lowest low on record. 2023 is now the eighth consecutive year that the annual low has been below average.

Whether this was due to natural variability or the onset of a signal of climate change was unclear as of February 2023, NOAA said in an online story. Making such a decision could take many more years.

The floating ice around Antarctica has just hit an all-time low

Unusually warm temperatures earlier this year completely melted snow in several regions of Antarctica that typically cling to at least some snow year-round.

The world’s oceans are warmer than they have ever been. The average sea surface temperature is currently just under 70 degrees Fahrenheit compared to a historical average of just over 68 degrees.

The fever is particularly high in the North Atlantic Ocean, where the average surface water temperature is currently 72 degrees. At 0.9 degrees above average, this is the warmest temperature on record for the North Atlantic.

Global ocean temperatures have reached record highs since mid-March. Other oceanic hotspots include the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru and the north-central Pacific.

Heat in the eastern Pacific along the equator signals an El Nio development, typically leading to extreme weather for some parts of the world.

Forecasters warn of the unpredictable, meteorological chaos as El Nio develops

The convergence of record warm ocean waters and El Nio has complicated this season’s hurricane forecast for the Atlantic Ocean, as El Nino typically limits hurricane development in the Atlantic, while warm ocean waters can enhance storm development .

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